From its fantastic beaches to small-town charm, Sarasota is one of those towns that should be a part of your bucket list. Whether you are traveling to unwind or for an adventure, Sarasota has something for everyone!
If you like clean white sand beaches and beautiful blue water, chances are your travels will eventually bring you to Siesta Key right here in Sarasota in Florida. If that’s where you are heading right now, then this the ultimate travel guide is for you. After traveling to Sarasota last week, I decided to create top attractions and make a list of the must-do things for you!
Once you arrived in this sunshine city, I highly suggest renting a car. Sarasota may have its small-town charm, but getting around can be tricky. You are free to explore with a car on your own time, and you won’t rack up a hefty Uber bill.
Top Attractions in Sarasota:
Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key Beach is the principal reason for many guests to come to Sarasota. The sand, which is 99% pure crystal quartz (no kidding), is often cited as the whitest, cleanest sand globally. With an energetic area equipped with volleyball courts, a barbecue area filled with grills (you must carry your charcoal), and trained lifeguards (no Dwayne Johnson, though) on duty all day, Siesta Key Beach is an excellent place for spring breakers and families alike. On Sunday evenings, there is a tourist-heavy drum circle where town hippies play and everyone parties. Adorable Manatees travel to warmer water in Sarasota as a result of the temperature drop and can be spotted in slow-moving, shallow estuaries, coastal and bays ecosystems. You can find them in nearby rivers in Siesta Key.
Sarasota’s elegant deep-water marina is a quick walk from downtown and is well served with Outdoor dining (alfresco) and other fine-dining restaurants, private charters, and numerous sightseeing cruises. Head here for water sports, boat rentals, fishing charters, and sailing.
Ringling Museum Complex
The 60-acre winter estate of real-estate, railroad, and circus baron John Ringling and Mable (his wife), is one of the Gulf Coast’s major attractions and includes their personal selection of artworks in what is now Florida’s famous state art museum. These are several museums rolled in one, and they are as charming as the circus (see following lines for what’s in store at the circus) itself. Nearby, Ringling’s Circus Museum records his professional successes, while their sumptuous Venetian Gothic home, Cà d’Zan, exhibits the impresario’s lavish tastes. Don’t miss the short film on Ringling’s life, exclusively screened in the Circus Museum.
Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy
Devoted to all things comical, this dazzling pink museum and its adjoining outdoor sculpture garden do not fail to excite. Although exhibitions rotate regularly, expect an abundance of animal sculptures, hidden surprises, eclectic textiles, trippy paintings, and swing chairs to unwind in.
Great World Way
Away from the beaches but within comfortable driving distance of downtown, Sarasota is an enormous wilderness region of more than 100,000+ acres. The backbone of this forest is the 66 miles long Myakka River. Within its watershed are many miles of exciting trails. You can access this wilderness via mountain bike, horseback, kayak/canoe, and on foot accompanied by a Master Naturalist.
Sarasota’s marina is famous for Island Park, a beautiful green space jabbing into the harbor: it has a play fountain and great playground, tree-shaded benches, restrooms, a tiki bar, and a restaurant; and jet-ski, kayak, and boat rentals.
Where to eat in Sarasota?
You can explore this place called Buttermilk for morning breakfast. Try the delicious handmade biscuit breakfast sandwiches here; they are to die for. But don’t forget to reach early; they run out quickly. St. Armand’s Circle hosts Green Zebra, a great place to try Brazillian bowl and scoop of peanut butter. You can tray acai bowl at clean juice. Snacks here are made from USDA-organic ingredients. Try nutty bowl; it was my favorite. For vegetarians, Lila downtown is a worthy place to try vegan cuisine with locally source ingredients. Boca is yet another farm-to-table eatery in Sarasota. They get all of their raw materials from local farms and even have their food growing inside the establishment. Enjoy your food with the basil plant growing next to you.